While yesterday's buzzer beating acquisition of Chris Smalling stole all of Roma's transfer-related headlines, the club almost pulled off a double reunion swoop. With Roma successfully loaning Justin Kluivert to RB Leipzig and locked in negotiations with Fenerbahçe for Diego Perotti, the club had a sudden and unexpected vacancy on the wing. And sure, Roma's new formation isn't exactly winger friendly, but with Kluivert and Perotti following Cengiz Ünder out the door, the club was suddenly starved for depth at wide forward.
And as late as midday Monday (EDT), the presumptive replacement for Kluivert/Perotti/Ünder was none other than former Roma forward and fan favorite Stephan El Shaarawy. The Pharaoh spent parts of four seasons with Roma, scoring 40 goals and chipping in 19 assists in all competitions. For a team that often struggles to find secondary scoring options outside of Edin Dzeko, El Shaarawy fit the bill as a dynamic and agile forward capable of exploiting the spaces in and around Dzeko.
Roma and El Shaarawy were practically a match made in heaven until, well, more practical matters came home to roost. With the club desperately seeking to trim the wage bill, they presumably had to wait until Perotti and his €3 million salary were officially and completely off the books. While Roma were able to sew up Perotti's transfer prior to the deadline, it didn't leave enough time for Guido Fienga to complete a separate El Shaarawy deal.
The finality of this deal falling through got lost in the Smalling fray, but SES’ simple but effective Instagram post spoke volumes:
It's safe to say that El Shaarawy's disappointment was shared by a number of Roma fans, but according to today's rumors, all hope may not be lost. According to Calciomercato, Roma and Shanghai Shenhua may reconvene in January to work out a six month loan for El Shaarawy. Calciomercato takes it a step further and suggests that the original loan—the one that fell through last minute—actually retained a purchase option for Roma, with El Shaarawy reportedly substantially reducing his salary demands.
A winter move for El Shaarawy, while coming three months later than many of us hoped, would still make a great deal of sense for both parties. For El Shaarawy, who is reportedly going to remain in Italy for the next few months to avoid any quarantining procedures that might arise from traveling between China and Italy, a six month stint in the capital should be more than enough time to convince Roberto Mancini that he belongs with the Azzurri in next summer's delayed European Championships.
For Roma, it's rather simple: the more attackers the better. Given his speed, and particularly his agility, El Shaarawy's ability to operate in tight spaces, to work give and goes at the edge of the area, would enable him to flourish in Fonseca's tactical setup, giving the club additional scoring options apart from Dzeko.
Presuming all three parties are on the same page three months from now, this deal should (hopefully) come together rather quickly.